Montage, by Mariner Software
Posted: 25-Sep-2008

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Mariner Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Ian Bell Class: PRODUCTIVITY

Overview
This software is for the up and coming, soon to be, want to be, or already screen writer. The software is from Mariner Software and provides all the needed pieces to become the next Joss Whedon, unless of course you get canceled before the first season. Although there are other software solutions out there, there the one thing that sets this software apart: cost. You do not have to spend half a months salary to get a product that will give you all of the components necessary to submit the next American Graffiti to the BBC.

Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.4 or higher (including Leopard)
  • 128 MB memory
  • 20 MB disk space
  • G4 processor or higher


Setup

Setup of the software could not be easier. It follows the standard Mac install practices and just works.

In Use
To begin to use the software, all you need is an idea, and the ability to type. There are multiple templates available for you to choose from, so you can submit in the correct format, or you can use the blank template.

Once you figure out the template, you are going to use the basic interface which is rather straight forward. You are presented with what looks like a basic word processor. The magic is what is behind the basic input, and is what makes turning out your work so very easy.


Building a Script in Montage

I used Montage to flesh out a story line that has bounced through my head for way too long. I was stumped as to how to put my ideas in type, until I started using this software. To be honest, I am not a writer by most standards, but what I am good at is selling a story. This software finally gave me that ability to put to paper in a way that is close to how I think.

The software was easy to use and it took me a little time to catch on to the ideas of creating a story in script format. If you look on the sidebar, you will notice a set of icons for functions, such as outline or tasks. These other sections help you organize and compile all of the pieces that go into the script as well as contacts and how to write a query letter to get that producer to read what you think is the next great work.


Montage Tasks


So lets look at two of my favorite features, the first is characters. This area is populated as you create characters within the script, or you can add them manually. You can see where they are within the script, and you can add text and pictures directly to the character which might be important to fleshing out the character.


Creating Characters


The other feature that I love is the research area. This is the place I can put the scene pieces that fill in a location or something that is on screen or in a location for a particular reason. Since I am such a visual person, it lets me fill in pieces before they go to the script, or just create notes on things. I use it as my note pad and scratchpad for the props and products within the script.


Research Data


One other small feature which I appreciate is that the software puts a backup of your current script in your document folder, so you don't have to worry about losing hours of work due to some unexpected mishap.

The output of your script project can be in multiple forms, depending on what you are submitting or how you are submitting. The way you save your document will dictate how it is saved. For example, if you save in DOC or PDF you get the script only. Where as, saving as FDR (final draft), you save everything, and the resulting file can be re-opened in Montage. However, I could not find an output report option that lets you print a report that includes all of the sections of your script project.


Output Options

With any good software, it cannot all be perfect. The thing I had to get used to is how a script goes together. I actually looked at many many scripts before I had my "ah ha" moment. The different pieces of the script are color coded or indented, and it took me a while to try to understand why the software was attempting to do what it was doing. The software trys to follow a basic set of rules for a script, but sometimes what you want to do and what it thinks you are doing do not jive. The color coding of different pieces helps this out. Also when you are typing in a character name, sometimes it thinks it really knows who you are wanting to use and will jump in after the first letter or two and instantly fill in the whole name.

To get you through the hurdles of working with a new piece of software, Mariner has included large amounts of documentation available from the help menu. It covers all aspects of the software, including a tutorial to show you the different section functions.

Summary
Mariner Montage is a great product for anyone wanting to write a script. It keeps you organized, and your thoughts and story collected in a single area. It provides the tools to format that script according to company guidelines. It helps you with how to get your foot in the door, and it has well written and very complete help function when you get lost. I certainly recommend this software to anyone looking to use their Macintosh to write a script.

Pros

  • Great for casting script ideas into a cohesive whole
  • Great on a set for keeping the visual parts of a production organized
  • Easy to learn
  • Useful and well-organized project sections
  • Nice ability to include visual references (photographs, etc.)

Cons

  • No option to print out all of the sections
  • Autotype feature sometimes can be annoying
  • Software rules not always in sync with author's wants


Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Mice